Cruise ship turned away from Manila port due to coronavirus fears

The Westerdam cruise ship. Credit: Holland America Line

One of Holland America Line’s cruise ships was refused entry into Manila and underwent stringent checks after arriving earlier in Kaohsiung as a result of coronavirus fears.

Westerdam was supposed to arrive in Kaohsiung on 5 February but arrived a day earlier after being denied entry to Manila by Philippines authorities.

This was because Westerdam had picked up 800 passengers from Hong Kong on 1 February, and on 2 February, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte temporarily banned travellers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau from entering the country.

Although Westerdam had no passengers or crew who had been to China in the last 14 days, customs, immigration, and quarantine officials in Kaohsiung decided to take extra precaution.

The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control stipulated that passengers and crew members exhibiting pneumonia symptoms, such as coughing and fever, had to be stopped from disembarking.

Westerdam was carrying 1,458 passengers and 802 crew members and the passengers were self-quarantined in their cabins. Personnel from Kaohsiung Port Terminal disinfected the ship with alcohol and bleach.

At 1300 h local time the same day, Westerdam departed for Keelung.

The coronavirus surfaced in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, in December 2019, and has nearly spread worldwide, infecting more than 25,000 people and killing more than 500 others. The World Health Organization has declared coronavirus a global health emergency.

On 5 February, Japan’s Health Ministry announced that 10 people on quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess had tested positive for the coronavirus, after the ship carried a passenger from Hong Kong who later tested positive.